Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Clarity of Night??? Man, What the Heck Are You Talking About?

It's easy to forget, so it bears occasional reminding, that at this very moment, your feet (or some other flattened part of your body) are glued to a planet. You know, a planet. Think Galileo, telescopes, gas giants, elliptical orbits, etc. A planet.

Yes, it's true.

Don't believe me? Jump as high as you can. See? Amazing isn't it? Serious glue, that gravity.

Okay, the more scientific minded among you felt quite secure in that understanding already. But do you really realize how profound that connection is? There's day, and there's night. Depending on your latitude, there are seasons of hot and cold, sun and rain, calm and storms. Here in the temperate northern hemisphere, the seasons are profound. At the summer solstice, day is a whopping 6+ hours longer than at the winter solstice.

Then, we have the two equinoxes (as a Latin major it is hard for me not to write the correct form "equinoces" here), where we particularly fall victim to confusion. When light and dark are perfectly balanced, should we be happy (lots of sun) or should we spiral into melancholy (hey, where'd the sun go)? It's no accident that samhain (i.e., Halloween) is near the autumnal equinox. The mixing of light and dark equates to the mixing of the living and the dead.

We are creatures of the Earth, after all. The further we stray from the bountiful equator and its uniformity of climate, the more vulnerable we are to fatal miscalculations. You better build your shelter in the heat in order to live through the cold. You better grow your food in the sun in order to eat when the branches are bare.

Modern conveniences can largely tame the Earth. Of course, if we're not smart with our resources, one day our number will be up. However, for now the constant burn of fuel fires up the cold, chills away the heat, and rips away the dark. Don't get me wrong, the power of the Earth still punches through. Why do so many holidays and festivals featuring light exist around the winter solstice (Hanukkah, Christmas, pagan rituals, etc.)? Despite our soft white bulbs and plasma TV's, the unending nights still depress the hell out of us.

The dark. That one is special. No slow growth towards spring. No slow death in autumn. It happens every day. The sun sinks fast enough you can actually see it bleed away into the horizon. If you're not in it right now, you're going to be in a little while.

Have you ever walked in a forest at night? The imperfectly lit streets of a city at three in the morning are unimaginably more friendly. What is so powerful about the dark? Well, first, a lack of light shrinks the world. We have trouble conceiving or accepting what we can't see. Without those happy little photons bouncing off the far landscape and landing in our eyes, our minds can't stretch much farther than a stone's throw from where we stand. What could be out there where the shadows shroud our ability to know? Anything. Everything.

So there we are, you and I, in our tiny islands of understanding in the night. Restful. Peaceful. The world is no longer bustling. Nothing is pushing between you and your own mind. It's a tantalizing convergence of circumstances, isn't it? Just when you are especially plugged into yourself, your mind is swelling to weave a replacement world for the larger, real one which has winked out of existence. That time bring so many opportunities. You can populate your private world with fear (You can never prove a negative, can you? For instance, you can never prove that there ISN'T a hideous creature behind you always keeping just beyond the edge of your sight). Or, you can populate your private world with your dearest dreams. Ever notice how much more beautiful a face can be in the half light of a candle? That's your private world casting its spell.

That is clarity of night-- the connection which forms in the solitude of darkness between your freed mind and your propensity to really listen to what it has to say.

The subtitle of this blog is Irreverence, Insights, and the Uncanny. The insights, we've covered. Here is a place to share them. As for the uncanny, it's difficult to walk the halls of night and not bump into a few ghosts along the way, because remember, in our private world, even the imagined ghost is real. If you delight in feathery chills running over your skin and in heart-pumping good scares, this is a place to share that too.

Lastly, irreverence. Part of giving in to free thinking is letting go of tradition for tradition's sake. No belief should be held without a thorough testing and retesting by each person who holds it. Unscrutinized faith is the surest path to evil, because being absolutely certain of anything is the surest sign that you're wrong. We'll be knocking around a few traditions and beliefs here. Free thinking demands it.


Daniel Heath said...

heavy business! you're not playing around here.

funny how we writers of fiction blogs feel obligated to explain ourselves (I do, too). must be because we're wordy to begin with.

Chemical Billy said...

Ooh, I'm liking this. As an adult still afraid of the dark, this speaks to me with a shout.

And, on your last point, a screenwriting prof of mine in college used to say that it was only the Bad Guys in fiction who were absolutely certain of their rightness.

WannabeMe said...


Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Where did you get your pictures? I really like them

Anonymous said...

Dana, thank you! For the most part, my pictures come from the region around my home in southeastern Pennsylvania or from my frequent travels through the Poconos. We have a mountain cabin in Wayne County, Pennsylvania on the New York border.

Wendy Gunderson said...

How beautifully you've expressed the "clairity of night", giving a expression to what once was just a quiet nagging presence in the back of my mind. Walk in beauty.

Anonymous said...

Wow - fantastic blog, got to go and link you now.

Anonymous said...

This is lovely. I just started blogging and found you via Recess for Writers.

Liane Spicer said...

Just hopped across here to read anti-wife's submission and got seriously sidetracked.

Me like. Now I'm off to the gallery.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Found you via the individual voice. Good luck on the book.

Abhi said...

Hi Jason,

This was the first post of yours that i read just now and I am mesmerised by the way you began your journey out here. I know its been a long time and the last comment on this post was way back in 2007, the time when i had just began my journey in this world of blogging.

Don't know how I managed to reach your blog but I feel I should have read it much before because I don't know how long will it take to read all your posts... for sure i would complete reading all your writing.

It was pleasure having visited your blog.